His scent. His clothes. His words. He wasn't what I wanted my big brother, Jack, to be like. With bloodshot eyes, he looked through everyone and everything that surrounded him; he was lost and didn't care what my parents said. He did what he wanted. Coming home late smelling of marijuana and alcohol, he was simply careless. I would lie in bed and listen to the screaming and arguing, while a river of tears would stream down my face.
As a child, I didn't understand. Why does he have to do whatever he's doing? All I wanted was a brother who would protect me from the big scary monsters under my bed and the "bad guys" who only lived in the movies. My parents did their best to try to explain to me what was happening in my brother's life, but they never really got to the point of why he was doing it. Him being their first teenager, it seemed they were just as confused as I was on his reasoning.
When Jack graduated and moved onto college, my parents thought he would turn his life around, but unsurprisingly, he failed to do so. I used to watch my mother tap her tired hands on the keyboard for hours, researching ways to handle "out-of-control" children. Luckily, she came across a program, National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), and thought it was worth a try to discuss the program with Jack. I eavesdropped on my parents conversation with Jack and the second I saw a slight gleam of interest in his eyes for going on a semester long trip in Colorado that focused on outdoor skills, leadership and environmental ethics, I knew my parents would sign him up.
The next semester rolled around and off to the airport my mother, father, sister, Jack, and I went. It was time for my brother to say goodbye, only to return in three months time. I saw worry in my mother's hazel eyes as she released her tight grasp around my brother. I saw fear in my father’s eyes for what the possible outcome from his trip could be. I saw protection in my sister's eyes as she held me close, wanting to shield me from what my brother had become. Among all of these emotions swimming in the air, I had one that was completely different from the rest.
I felt hope.
Three months passed, and it was time to return to the place where I last saw my brother: the airport. Sitting in the backseat during the bumpy car ride with my back aching from the awkward position, I didn’t know what to think for what was to come, and it seemed neither did my mother. When we waited for Jack to slowly reveal himself from the rusty escalator, she paced back and forth, fiddling with her newly cut hair. My Dad looked calm as ever, sitting in a dusty blue, fake leather chair, which was one of the many in the baggage claim area. It felt as if hours had passed as we waited, when truly it had only been minutes.
I almost didn’t recognize him. My mother ran towards this bizarre figure, clicking her heels on the ground, and held him so tight his face turned a slight shade of blue. Tears filled her eyes, and I...